Tony Allen

Character & Episode: Third Ghost in The Trouble with Women

Tony worked as a bit part actor for a number of years, mainly in non-speaking roles. His appearance in The Trouble With Women is believed to have been his first in television. In 1971 he played an irate driver in an episode of Please Sir! and the following year was one of the monks in Carry On Abroad. Later in 1977 he played Bill the driver in several episodes of the successful Seventies cop series The Sweeney alongside John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. His final screen appearance followed in 1979 when he played a removal man in an episode of Minder. From the early Eighties Tony worked in the wardrobe department on such television series as Inspector Morse (1989-2000), Peak Practice (1994) and Kavanagh QC (1995-97). He retired in 2002.

Neal Arden

Character & Episode: Second Poker Player in The Trouble with Women
Born: 27/12/1909, Fulham, London, England (as Arthur Neal Alston)
Died: 04/06/2014, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England

It is believed Neal must be one of the oldest actors to have lived, as he was 104 when he died in 2014. He was a dependable character actor, well-known on radio and in theatre. He was born the son of a music hall comedian and a dancer. After joining his father in the variety halls as a child, he was educated at the Royal Masonic School in Bushey, Hertfordshire. He left school aged 16 to work in a factory making spectacles, and then spent three years as an officer in the British South Africa Mounted Police in Rhodesia.

He made his screen debut in the 1934 film Princess Charming. Other film credits over the years included the wartime anti-Nazi thriller Pimpernel Smith (1941, produced and directed by its star, Leslie Howard), John Wesley (1954) and The Shakedown (1960). His most substantial role was in Norman Walker's Life of St Paul (1938), in which he played the saint from beardless youth to bewhiskered old age. During the Second World War, Neal worked for the BBC's African Service, broadcasting on short wave from London. After the war, as well as Housewives' Choice, he ran his own musical radio show, Quiet Rhythm, which aired late on Sunday nights for 19 years. Though not so well-known as Housewives' Choice, it built up a loyal following. In the 1950s, Neal also wrote many scripts for the new Independent Television and record reviews for newspapers and magazines.

From 1968, he embarked on a new career as a hard-working charity fundraiser, first as appeals secretary for the Abbeyfield Society, then as appeals director for 13 years of the National Kidney Research Fund. Other charities with which he was involved included National Cancer Relief, the National Deaf Children's Society, Mencap and the National Autistic Society. Among other things, he raised more than £300,000 by compiling and selling recordings of songs and speeches by famous performers and musicians who agreed to forgo their royalties. In 2005, he published his autobiography, A Man of Many Parts. He was married twice and had a son and daughter, leading a rich and full life to the end. One of his last acting roles was in the popular series I, Claudius as Cestis in 1976. Over the course of his career he notched up just over fifty television and screen appearances.

Graham Armitage

Character & Episode: Young Stage Director in It's Supposed to be Thicker Than Water
Born: 24/04/1936, Manchester, Lancashire, England
Died: 06/03/1999, Johannesburg, South Africa

Although Graham made his debut in 1952 in the television play Without The Prince, it was not until 1964 that he became a regular supporting actor. For the next twenty years he appeared mainly on television, being a cast regular in a number of shows long forgotten, such as United! and Mr Rose. Other notable roles came in programmes including The Saint, The Avengers and several appearances on The Dick Emery Show. His last appearance was in 1999 in Alec to the Rescue, in which he played the part of a vicar.

Robin Askwith

Character & Episode: Pageboy in That's How Murder Snowballs
Born: 20/10/1950, Southport, Lancashire, England

As a boy, Robin overcame polio and attended Merchants Taylor School in Rickmansworth, though he was expelled after jokingly trying to rob a post office. Whilst at school Robin learned to play the drums and appeared in several school productions. He later took a place at Bristol University to study English and drama. He first appeared on television in a margarine advert and his film career began in 1968 with Otley, in which he played one of the children. His first proper acting role was in If..., made in the same year and starring Malcolm McDowell. The film has attained cult status for its attack on the upper-class society and its violent ending.

Other work followed and in 1969 he appeared in That's How Murder Snowballs. Over the next few years he steadily gained more work, including the childrenís series Here Come The Double Deckers! (1970), Father, Dear Father (1971), The Fenn Street Gang (1971) and Bless This House (1972). In 1973 he appeared in Carry On Girls as a photographer called Larry Prodworthy who photographs Margaret Nolan topless on Brighton beach (doubling for its single entendre film equivalent, Fircombe). It would be his only work in the famous comedy series.

In 1974 he landed the role of Timothy Lea in the Confessions film series, which remains his most famous work. Robin was not the first choice as Richard Beckinsale (of Rising Damp), Richard O'Sullivan (Man About the House) and Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney) had already turned the role down. He made four of these comedy sex romps: Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974), Confessions of a Pop Performer (1975), Confessions of a Driving Instructor (1976) and Confessions from a Holiday Camp (1977). In each film, he co-starred with Anthony Booth, famed for his 1966 to 1975 turn as Alf Garnett's "Scouse git" son-in-law in Till Death Us Do Part. Robin's longtime girlfriend actress Linda Hayden (1953- ) also appeared in two of the Confessions films. Due to the popularity of these films, Robin recorded a single record called Confessions which reached number 39 in the charts in 1977 and he even sang this song on Marc Bolan's television show, Marc.

The Confessions films made Robin a cult figure, though in the long term they arguably did his career more harm than good, as he became typecast. He appeared in other bawdy sex comedies that were less successful, such as Queen Kong (1976), Leslie Thomas' Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977) and Letís Get Laid (with glamour model Fiona Richmond, 1982). His later works include 13 episodes as Dave Deacon in Bottle Boys (1984 to 85) and in 2007 he even appeared in several episodes of Coronation Street.

Askwith continues to act, with stage roles accounting for the greater part of his work in recent years, including a spin-off from the Confessions films, called The Further Confessions of a Window Cleaner. He did however feature in the 2013 film adaptation of Ray Cooney's stage farce Run for Your Wife. He has also performed in several pantomimes. In 1999 he wrote an entertaining biography called The Confessions of Robin Askwith. For several years, Robin has lived on the island of Gozo in Malta. He has been married twice, firstly to actress Leonie Mellinger (1959-) and latterly to Mary Wilson.

Felix Aylmer OBE

Character & Episode: Joshua Crackan in It's Supposed to be Thicker Than Water
Born: 21/02/1889, Corsham, Wiltshire, England (as Felix Edward Aylmer Jones)
Died: 02/09/1979, Pyrford, Woking, Surrey, England

Felix Aylmer was born in Wiltshire the son of Lilian (Cookworthy) and Thomas Edward Aylmer Jones. Felix was educated at King James' Grammar School, Almondbury, where he was a boarder from 1897 to 1900. He then went to Oxford and was educated at Magdalen College. It was while at Oxford that Felix started his acting career, becoming a member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society. He trained under the Victorian-era actress and director Rosina Filippi before securing his first professional engagement at the London Coliseum in 1911. His career was interrupted by the First World War in which he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After the war he resumed his stage career and made his screen debut in 1930. He would remain a popular character actor for the next forty years, notching up well over one hundred and fifty film and television appearances and remaining busy in theatre throughout his career.

He is fondly remembered for playing doddering old characters, his turn as Joshua Crackan being a typical example. One of his most notable film appearances was in 1944 when he played the Archbishop of Canterbury in The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France, Laurence Olivier's Shakespeare adaptation that is more commonly known as Henry V. He would later work again with Olivier and "the Bard" on Hamlet (1948) and would portray the Archbishop of Canterbury once more in Becket (1964). In 1950 he was awarded an OBE and then in 1965 he was appointed a Knight Bachelor for his services to drama. By the Sixties he had started to become more prominent on television, and he is well remembered for his role as Father Anselm in Oh! Brother (1968-1970), an ecclesiastical comedy series that featured Derek Nimmo. Felix often played wise old men, such as Merlin in Knights of the Round Table (1953). He even gave elocution lessons to the young Audrey Hepburn. His voice was frequently mimicked by comedians such as Peter Sellers and Kenneth Williams.

Felix was President of Equity from 1950 to 1969. In his personal life, Felix was married for fifty years to actress Cecily Byrne (1889-1975). The couple had two children, Jennifer and David. Their son David (1929-1964) was also an actor, and, tragically, committed suicide.

Section compiled by Darren Senior

Additional research and presentation by Alan Hayes

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